April 1, 2011

One of the focuses of our BETI effort has been the potential intersection with the military. I mean, here we are as the Prosperity Partnership, trying to establish an international hug for the energy efficiency technology cluster here in the central Puget Sound. And here we are in the central Puget Sound with one of the largest concentrations of military presence in the country. And there the military is making bold public statements about how they see clean tech and energy efficiency as a key to their core mission. Kinda seems like there must be some mutually beneficial connection, yes?

Luckily for me, I don’t need to do a lot of research to understand how that might work, because ITIF wrote this lovely report entitled “Lean, Mean and Clean: Energy Innovation and the Department of Defense.”

Let’s read along together and see what we learn!

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It’s Cloud-y In Seattle

March 21, 2011

I don’t know if any of you have friends and relatives that don’t live here (I assume you do), but there’s nothing more annoying than when they ask me “Hey, is it raining in Seattle?” Or, when they come to visit and it happens to be raining, they say, “I’m SOOOO surprising it’s raining!” It reminds me of all the comments I got when I was an intern in DC during the Clinton administration (“say hi to Monica Lewinsky for me!”).

So you can imagine how mixed my emotions were to write that post title. (The other option was some obscure Lando Calrissian/Cloud City reference). But sometimes, true is true. And it’s true: our region is the world leader in the cloud. Cloud computing, that is!

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It’s Pretty Weird that We Have So Many Energy Efficient Buildings

March 16, 2011

Now, you’re thinking, “C’mon, Eric, you talk about energy efficiency all the time and how we’re going to be the international hub of the energy efficiency industry cluster. How can you think it’s weird that we have so many energy efficient buildings?” And by “so many”, I assume that you’re referring to the latest news that Seattle ranks 16th in U.S. for energy-efficient buildings. (And that’s total number…imagine how we rank in per capita number.)

But, yes, I think it’s weird. When I talk about being an international EE leader, I’m talking about developing and selling the goods and services that make other places energy efficient…places that have high power rates and need to make those investments. But, here, everyone always talks about how our electricity rates are so low that it doesn’t make sense to invest in energy efficiency. So how come we do it anyway?

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Buildings are the New iPhones

February 28, 2011

Over the last year and a half, we’ve been working on our BETI proposal to facilitate this region becoming the leader in building energy efficiency software. A big part of our optimism for the success of this endeavor is the mix of clean tech entrepreneurship and software development expertise that this region is already known for.

But I had a major realization on Friday that, in many ways, I wasn’t seeing the forest for the trees. The most exciting prospects for our region are not to wire buildings so that their energy use can be controlled; the most exciting prospects are to wire buildings such that everything can be controlled. And in our open source society, it’s not going to just be large companies developing software to manage building activities…it’s going to be everyone.

Buildings are the new iPhones.

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Validation About Validation

February 11, 2011

It’s one thing to be right about something and have someone else agree with your ideas. It’s another thing entirely for someone to take your same idea and begin implementation of it! Which seems to be happening with our BETI project and the City of New York.

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Man Vs. Technology (In Energy Efficient Buildings), Part II

February 1, 2011

About a year ago, I wrote about how the energy efficiency of buildings is very dependent on human behavior. The idea is that, no matter how good your energy efficiency technology is, it won’t help if it is counteracted by someone opening the window at the wrong time or turning up the thermostat for no reason. And believe me, as someone whose grandmother keeps the thermostat on 76 degrees – in Florida! – that’s a real concern.

But these are acts of omission…or, at the very least, thoughtlessness. If someone is too hot or too cold, they’re not thinking about their building’s energy use, just their own comfort. And so that’s why I’m so interested in how software and automation technology can be used to counteract human error as a way to minimize energy use (and how our region can be an international leader in providing those products, with the help of BETI). What I didn’t anticipate are the acts of commission with regard to building energy use, like creating a human blockade to stop your local utility from installing smart meters!

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Let’s Get Passive About Energy Efficiency

October 1, 2010

On last week’s Energy Efficiency Industry Cluster Tour, one of our stops was a green building project designed by Mithun, a local architecture firm. In describing the building’s energy efficiency feature, our guide used the analogy of buildings as “either sailboats or powerboats.” I thought it was a great analogy, and really highlighted that, sometimes, the best way to ensure energy efficiency in a building is to do nothing. Read the rest of this entry »